I was looking for some backup solutions over the weekend for all the pictures and videos I’d taken over the years and found an easy way to use Amazon Glacier. Currently all my media is backed up on hard-drives but hard-drives can deteriorate over time and if a fire or flood broke out or even a burglary  the backups could be destroyed or stolen too. Furthermore, it’s a pain switching the hard-disks back and forth to copy files which means that it can be months before I perform another backup (I keep my backup hard-disk separate from my computer).

Looking online, there are a bunch of online back up solutions such as CarboniteElephantDrive amongst many others. There are sync tools such as Google Drive, Skydrive and Dropbox. But when I looked at the prices I thought there must be a cheaper way.

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How to backup for less than $10 per year

Amazon Glacier is your friend. It takes a bit of setting up, fortunately there are some free tools out there. Here’s how it works.

1. Create an Amazon Glacier account. If you already have an Amazon account, you can use that account.

2. Create an API key for your Amazon Glacier account by going into your Security Credentials page in Amazon and then create an Access Key ID, this should also provide you with a secret access key.

3. Download Fast Glacier (It’s free). This is the app that will connect to Amazon Glacier and let you backup your files in an easy way.

4. When the application starts up, type in your account name, access key ID and secret access key into the following screen -

add-new-glacier-account

5. Create a Vault (I picked US East for the cheapest prices, but you may want to pick another location)

6. Now it’s simply a case of adding files or folders that need to backed up and then letting it run.

(For Mac users, you can use Arq)

What’s the cost?

It can get complicated here -

For me, I had about 60GB of pictures and videos to store. The cost is $0.01 per GB per month. That’s $0.60 per month for storage. Amazon also charge for data transfer. For putting the data into storage, it’s free. For each file you put into storage or remove from storage it costs $0.05 for every 1000 files. (Assuming 1 request per file)

For restoring backups (retrieving files), the first GB of data is free, after which it costs $0.12 for the first 10 TB of data.

The cost in my scenario is 60 GB, 12,000 files, I won’t be downloading data all that often (maybe when I sync but that should be less than 1000 requests per month after the initial backup is complete)

So my annual cost will be
$0.60 x 12 (Storage cost)

+

$0.05 x 12 (File request cost)

= $7.2 + $0.60

Add in the initial cost of uploading the data which would be $0.05 X 12 =$0.60

My total annual cost will be $8.40. Even if I were to backup an extra GB of data per month, after a year, that extra cost would be $0.66. barely over $9. To restore all my data it would cost $7.68, but i don’t expect to do this often. Here’s the pricing page in case you wish to see the prices for yourself.

What’s the disadvantage?

Glacier is designed for archiving, so it’s not designed to work on ‘Live’ documents. It’s for the things that you don’t need to modify (hence why I use it for pictures and videos). It’s not fast.. it’s not designed to be fast so retrieving data may take some time, but if you need long term storage for your backups, this is the most cost effective and stable solution I have come across.

SEE ALSO: What’s the Best Backup Solution?

Featured photo credit: Hard disk drive internals close-up - copy space available via Shutterstock

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